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"Are you going to Boston to spend the weekend with your friends, dear?"
Laura Tomsen absently took her eyes off the television set in the headrest in front of her, and glanced aside at the gray-haired woman sitting in the adjacent seat. "Hmm?"
"It's July Fourth weekend," the little old lady explained with a maternal smile. "I thought you might be going to Boston to have a good time."
"Oh, not by a long shot," Laura replied with a smile that died as soon as it appeared. "My father died this week."
"Oh dear, I'm so sorry." An aged hand reached across the two armrests to squeeze a much more youthful member. "Was it tragic?" The hand shot to the mouth. "Oh, dear, that's really none of my business, now is it?"
"It's okay," Laura assured her with another flash of a smile. "To be honest, I really don't know how he died. All my Aunt Astrid will tell me is that his housekeeper found him in the bathtub."
The elderly woman obediently shifted her seat into the upright position as the pilot announced the final descent into Logan. "Sounds like he went peacefully," she observed with a warm, relieved smile directed inward. "Thank God for that."
"Is anyone here?"
When no one replied to the question shouted into the silence of the funeral home, the late night arrival went ahead and signed the registry. Then, leaving her carry-ons beside the door to the adjacent room, she approached with trembling hands the casket resting at the far end of that room.